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Alachua County Criminal Courthouse Renamed After Judge Stephan Mickle

Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Sr. (Photo courtesy of the University of Florida)
Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Sr. (Photo courtesy of the University of Florida)

The Alachua County Criminal Courthouse is being renamed in honor of late Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Sr.

During Tuesday’s Alachua County Commission meeting, the board voted unanimously in favor of the renaming.

Mickle broke many racial barriers during his lifetime. He was Alachua County’s first African American County Court Judge and the first African American Circuit Court Judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida. In 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated Mickle as the first African American United States District Judge in the Northern District of Florida. He was also the first Black student to obtain an undergraduate degree at the University of Florida in 1965 and continued his education by earning his master’s degree. In 1970, he became the second Black student to earn a law degree at the UF College of Law.

Philip Kabler, president of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association, said renaming the courthouse after Mickle will preserve his memory for the community.

“He has left quite a legacy. A legacy of equity and fairness. I think that renaming the courthouse in his honor is really quite a monument and specifically a monument of fairness,” Kabler said.

In a letter to the Alachua County Commission, Mark Moseley, Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, wrote, “Judge Mickle was a trailblazing legal giant who exemplified the spirit of public service and the pursuit of equality under the law. He is a true state and local hero whose greatness was established on the foundation of goodness.”

The judges of the Eighth Judicial Circuit joined the Bar Association’s Board of Directors in support of renaming the courthouse.

Attorney Avery McKnight said if it weren’t for Mickle, he would not be who he is today.

“Judge Mickle is a man that made me firmly believe in restorative justice. I say that because as a young kid, and I'm 55 now, but a kid like me, had judge Mickle as a wonderful example. So it is because of Judge Mickle, that I now serve as a partner with the Allen Norton and Blue Law Firm,” McKnight said.

County Commissioner Charles Chesnut said he knew Mickle for the majority of his life. Mickle died in January at age 76.

“He's been a role model to all of the young African American males in Alachua County. He was not only a great role model, but a great attorney and judge. It's fitting and I think it's appropriate that we honor him this way,” Chestnut said.

County Commissioner Mary Alford said understanding Mickle’s legacy is just as important as renaming the building.

“I hope that there's some mechanism for every future judge working in that building to learn about and understand the legacy of Judge Mickle, so that they can feel his influence as they go about making their own decisions and their own place in our judicial system,” Alford said.

The Alachua County Criminal Courthouse will now be named the Judge Stephan P. Mickle, Sr. Criminal Courthouse. An official unveiling of the renamed courthouse will be held in the fall.

Erica is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.